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Personal Financial Management Services
Military and Family Readiness Center
Brandon, Suffolk United Kingdom IP27 9PN
Contact information for key programs and services at this installation.
Resources are available to help you understand and manage your finances, including one-on-one financial counseling to assist you and your family with financial readiness. Services are designed to focus on money management issues throughout your active-duty lifecycle and into retirement. Financial readiness educational opportunities range from basic planning to long-term investing. Check out the information below to see what’s available at your installation.
RAF Lakenheath's Military and Family Readiness Center's Personal Financial Readiness Program offers confidential individualized financial planning assistance. Service members, DoD Civilians, and their families can take advantage of one-on-one personalized services or attend one of our many workshops conduced monthly. The overall focus of our PFR program is an enhanced knowledge of the principles and concepts needed for personal financial readiness. Certified staff members are also available for 1-1 appointments to assist with budgeting, saving, investing, identity theft prevention, homebuying, and credit report reviewing.
Private United States insurance companies offering good coverage at competitive prices are available on base in the United Kingdom. If you have a flawless driving record, bring a letter from your previous insurance company certifying that you did not make any insurance claims, because you may be entitled to receive what is known as a "no claims bonus."
If you are 26 or younger, do your homework before you ship a vehicle to the U.K. Insurance prices are based on your age, the horse power of your car and your driving history. The cost of needed coverage can exceed $2,500 per year.
Insurance for motorcycles -- It is imperative if you have a motorcycle that you secure insurance prior to shipping it to the U.K. Depending on your age and the type of motorcycle, you may not be able to secure insurance in the U.K. or may be costly.
As soon as you receive notice of your relocation to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, review your financial situation and create a spending plan that includes your current finances and your projected future expenses. Remember, there are always unplanned costs with a permanent change of station move, so being prepared is the key to a successful relocation. For assistance with creating a spending plan, contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center at your current location.
Helpful hints to get you started
The local currency is the pound sterling, which is commonly referred to as just the pound (the symbol for the pound is £). The value of the pound fluctuates daily and these fluctuations have a huge impact on your monthly Overseas Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). COLA is supplemental pay you will receive monthly; it is designed to equalize purchasing power between service members overseas (outside the Continental United States) and their stateside (Continental U.S.) counterparts. For current exchange rates, check online; COLA rates can be found Department of Defense Defense Travel Management website as well.
To make the conversion from pounds to dollars, multiply the number of pounds by the exchange rate. For example: If £1 equals $1.90 and your rent is £500 per month, multiply 500 X 1.90 and your rent is $950. Remember, the exchange rate fluctuates daily.
Value Added Tax
Value Added Tax is a tax levied on all products and services, with the exception of children's clothing and food. The present rate of VAT is 17%. VAT is similar to the sales tax we have in the United States. This tax does not apply to items purchased on base. After you arrive, contact the VAT office for information on how to make tax-free purchases on certain items that cost more than £100.
You will receive additional utility pay based on your rank and marital status while living in the U.K. As long as you monitor your utility consumption, the allowance is more than enough to cover your usage. Be aware: Unlike the U.S., your utility bills are issued quarterly, which can cause a financial burden if you don't save your monthly utility allowances. To avoid high quarterly bills, ask your utility companies to bill you monthly, making your budget easier to manage. To find current allowance rates, logon to the Department of State website.
Renting a home in the U.K.
There are many nice, affordable houses available in the local community priced within your Overseas Housing Allowance. It is the initial expense that can be overwhelming to your budget. Be prepared to pay a minimum of one month's rent and a security deposit equivalent to a month's rent before you move in. This can be a major expense which can cost more than $5,000, so financial planning before you arrive is a must.
Finding a home within your allowances is very important because as the pound/dollar exchange rate fluctuates, it may have a significant impact on your out-of-pocket expenses. If you plan on using the advance pay option, be aware that this amount with automatically be deducted from your pay, reducing your future monthly income. For assistance with a relocation budget and spending plan, contact your local A&FRC. Also, visit the Right Move website; it will give you a good idea of what you can expect as far as the size and cost of U.K. off-base houses.
The military will pay to transport the number of vehicles stipulated in your orders. Unless you are a dual military family, it is usually one per household. U.S. and U.K. vehicle specifications are different, so you will be required to have certain conversions completed on your car before it will pass the annually required Ministry of Transport safety inspection.
The cost of the MOT inspection is about $70, which doesn't include the conversion costs. The auto hobby facility on base can make all the changes needed and it will cost $50-$300, so be prepared.
The U.K. also requires that you pay a road tax based on the size of your car’s engine. The road tax can be paid for six months or a full year, with costs between $50-$350. Finance will reimburse one car's road tax per active-duty member. For more information on the road tax and MOT, go to the U.K. government website.